Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell

Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
5 Ways to Make the Most out of Book Time with Our Kids
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Wandering through the children’s section of a library or book store is like wandering blissfully down memory lane. Books take us back to times with a favourite teacher, a comfy couch with mom and dad, or the bedroom floor—lying on one’s tummy, rereading an old favourite. Life was simple. Books made everything better.

These days, there are so many other ways that kids might spend their time. Yet literacy remains critical to the development of many skills. In addition, book time creates an incredible opportunity for connection with our kids, developing strong relationships, memories, and inspiration for future discussions. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving.

On the other hand, almost every parent has felt their eyes rolling back in their head at the thought of reading that same book one more time! So, how do we get the most out of book time with our kids?

1. Let them ‘read the book’
With young children, choose books with pictures that tell a story and words that rhyme. Your kids can help you ‘read’ the book. Have them finish the sentence using the sounds of the rhyming words and the pictures as clues. They could even tell you a version of the story by going through the pictures. Although they aren’t actually reading the book, when kids have memorized parts of a book and can pretend to read it to you, they see themselves as readers and that encourages future reading.

2. Keep books with you in the car
It’s so easy to let your electronic device entertain the kids while waiting at the doctor’s office. However, if reading is important to your family, get really clear on how much screen time is right for your kids and then use available time for reading, puzzles and other games that allow hands-on problem-solving and creativity development. Reading a book builds a child’s imagination.

3. Visit the library
Feeling trapped in the house? Getting out to the library is a great escape. Kids can look through shelves and shelves of books and discover their own treasures. In addition, story times mean that you don’t have to do all the reading and that your child learns to sit and listen while in a group.

4. Do home-reading during the day and read to them at night
It’s best to do school reading homework during the day. Waiting until a child is sleepy can be really tricky for kids who aren’t confident readers. At bedtime, read books that are slightly beyond your child’s reading level. This exposes little ears to new vocabulary and engages their imagination. It leaves them dreaming of a wonderful story when they close their eyes to sleep.

5. Use the book to start your own story
If you have read the story one time too many, ask your kids a question about the characters or their actions: ‘Have you ever felt that way before?’ ‘What would you do if you saw a giant beanstalk growing up to the sky?’ These are great ways to connect with conversation and build a foundation for your growing relationship.

Comments | Tagged under books, reading
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talking to teachers
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Teachers do so much for our kids. During school hours, they often see a different child than the one we see at home, and notice both wonderful qualities as well as areas of growth. There will undoubtedly come a time when we may feel the need to speak with the teacher about a problem that our child is experiencing, whether at the teacher’s request or at our own. Here are six tools for making the most of a parent-teacher meeting.

  1. Book time to meet with the teacher. Just before or just after class is not a time when the teacher can give you or the issue at hand the full attention it deserves. While it may feel that your situation is the most important thing in the world, your child’s teacher has 29 other students who need to ask, ‘Just one small thing.’
  2. Remember that in almost all cases, all adults in the parent-teacher meeting want the best for the child. When we hold this to be true, we enter the meeting in a state of hope for a solution rather than in a position where our defensiveness might use up any energy we had for the meeting in the first place.
  3. Make a list before you enter the meeting. For many adults, sitting across the desk from a teacher reminds them of being held after class when they were kids. To be sure that emotions don’t rule the meeting, take some time before you get there to write down the facts and the feelings involved.
  4. Check your facts. There is often more than one truth; and it is worth remembering that a 6-year-old’s version of a story may not be complete. When discussing situations with teachers, a great sentence starter is, ‘The story we heard from Jenny after school yesterday was… Can you please share your point of view?’
  5. Don’t leave without a solution…or at least a plan for a solution. Often parent-teacher meetings are short. Keep track of the time in the meeting and be sure to leave a couple of minutes to determine what the next steps will be.
    • Who is doing what?
    • When will you next be in touch to see how things are working?
    • Who will contact whom? (We suggest that the parent follows up)
    • How will the contact happen? (email, phone, note in the agenda)
  6. Involve your child when possible. Having a bunch of adults discussing a child’s issue without the child may well result in the child taking absolutely no responsibility for the issue. When possible, have the child involved in the meeting and be sure that all adults are clear with the child about each person’s role in the solution, especially the expectations and consequences for the child as you move forward.
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